After two years of online conferences, this year we could finally meet in person again for ICYMARE 2022 BREMERHAVEN. The conference took place from 13th to 16th of September in Bremerhaven in the North of Germany, and was hosted by the University of Applied Science Bremerhaven. We were happy to welcome 333 participants from 37 countries and representation from all continents at the conference. Participants were mainly master students (66%), followed by bachelor (22%) and PhD candidates (12%). In 30 sessions, a total of 114 oral and 20 poster presentations were given, and participants could choose from a variety of workshops.

The Icebreaker event in the main hall of the Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research on Tuesday evening presented the kick-off for the conference. More than 80 participants joined for drinks and snacks. A highlight was the game ‘bingo’, where participants got the chance to get to know each other in a playful way.

On the following days, the University of Applied Science Bremerhaven opened the doors for the participants for three days full of presentations and networking activities. The opening words from the university and our local sponsors ‘Freundeskreis Bremerhaven’ gave the start to the conference and warmly welcomed the early-career-scientists (ECRs) in Bremerhaven.


Scientific Sessions

The following sessions and presentations at ICYMARE 2022 BREMERHAVEN centred around six main streams: management and conservation; new age of monitoring; insights into a changing ocean; ecosystem dynamics; an ocean full of numbers; and innovative technologies. For the first time at ICYMARE, the stream management and conservation included several interdisciplinary sessions at the interface of social/political science and marine conservation. Sessions in this stream included emergent topics, such as the importance of weaving Indigenous knowledge into research, social-ecological systems research and transforming governance for sustainable futures.

More emerging and highly relevant topics were also addressed in other streams. For example, within the stream new age of monitoring, novel monitoring techniques and progressive methodologies for assessing biodiversity and marine resources were presented. Presentations tackled this topic from the species to the population level and through time, including alternative methods for monitoring marine wildlife and resources, bioarchaeology of marine systems, molecular tools, and aquatic animal telemetry.

Other streams included latest research on the impact of changing conditions on marine life, providing insights on climate change, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss in the marine realm (insights into a changing ocean), and ecosystem dynamics from microbial communities, over marine forests to coral reef ecosystems. Finally, presentations in the streams an ocean full of numbers and innovative technologies presented a more mathematical and physical approach to the marine sciences, including sea ice dynamics, impacts of whirls and waves, and new technologies for and from ocean science, such as marine biotechnology and marine engineering. Presentations that did not fit into any of the other sessions were presented in the open session.


Keynote presentations and plenary discussion

After the opening on day one, participants engaged in the first keynote presentation by Julia Olsen from the Nordland Research Institute and a following plenary discussion. In her keynote presentation, Julia emphasised the deep-rooted relation between society and nature by using the Arctic Ocean as an example. Julia also highlighted the need for inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to translate scientific knowledge into action within the UN Ocean Decade. Using an interactive tool, participants could reveal their motivation to contribute to marine research and the meaning of the UN Ocean Decade (results are shown in the word clouds below). Participants could also show their agreement to three statements around the need for communicating scientific findings to society and decision-makers, the usefulness of social media, and the question, if early-career researchers (ECR) are in a position to make the change they want to see.

One highlight from the discussions was that even though most of the participants agreed that they do not see the necessary change they would like to see, we – as ECRs – are part of the change. We are the next generation of researchers, who will be in charge in the next decades and will shape the emerging research agendas! Participants also agreed that social media is a useful tool to share scientific results, but it is not the task of ECRs to make sure that their results reach decision-makers. More importantly, ECRs should concentrate on what they are best at – science – and leave the communication to people who are more trained in that field. The UN Ocean Decade provides a useful frame for societal relevant research and means many different things to the ECRs – but mainly creating an awareness in public for achieving sustainable development for the oceans (second word cloud).

In the second Keynote presentation Caroline Ngorobi further explored the connection between science and society by highlighting the role that art can play in this process to connect, share and mobilise. Caroline started her presentation with her own journey and experience of being a theatre producer in Kenya and moving into working in collaboration with scientists to inspire behaviour change and social activism. She shared her experience of managing to connect and create impactful theatre pieces together with scientists by developing a shared language and understanding. Through a series of artworks created as part of the Bahari Huru Ocean Art festival and residency hosted at Jukwaa Arts Productions, she invited the audience to take some quiet moments to reflect and feel the impacts of the artworks in their own bodies.

In the second part of her talk, Caroline shared best practices about how to collaborate in the ArtScience space. At the end of her talk, Caroline invited the audience to put into practice what they just heard. She engaged the audience to develop a news story about the Ocean from the perspective of a marine organism. Challenging everyone to put on a different hat to find a funny, thoughtful or unexpected framing of common marine issues brought out a lot of laughter and new insights on the latest news about the “octopus housing crisis” and “jellyfish invasion”. In the Q&A part of the session, many participants shared their inspiration and hopes from Caroline’s talk. One key takeaway was the idea that while the Ocean as well as ECRs face many challenges, we do not have to overcome them alone. As a community and ICYMARE family, we can support each other. From a disciplinary perspective, marine researchers do not have to do it all alone – we can connect with others and draw on other disciplinary tools, ways of thinking and perspectives.

Thanks for everyonewho joined and supportedICYMARE 2022 BREMERHAVEN.